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NASCAR's Regan Smith replaces injured Almirola in Charlotte


Richard Petty Motorsports named Regan Smith to drive its No. 43 vehicle Wednesday for the injured Aric Almirola in the All-Star Race preliminary event Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Smith, a one-time teammate of Almirola at now-defunct Dale Earnhardt Inc., and veteran of 211 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts, has been tabbed as a substitute before, notably replacing Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen in 2014 the night after Stewart struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr.in a sprint vehicle race. I'm not going to risk it. "I think they did a good job of getting me out of there the best way they could and made sure they stabilized my spine and didn't do any further damage". "When I left Homestead previous year, I legit didn't know if I would ever sit in a Cup vehicle again".

When Almirola and Devin's turn to strut - or, in Almirola's case, gingerly step - down the runway came, the crowd of 650 guests and donors' polite clapping turned into a roar of support. "Now that I've made it to the highest level, that's all I ever do".

"Looking back on it and watching the replay, I'm very thankful that that's the only thing that happened in that wreck; that I got a broken back. I've got a attractive family and I want to be able to run around outside and throw the baseball with Alex and I want to go to father-daughter dances with Abby and I'm not going to do anything to jeopardize that".

Almirola expects his recovery to take eight to 12 weeks.

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For the time being, doctors said he can't pick up anything weighing more than five pounds, which is especially troubling for a father of a 3-year old and 4-year-old who are accustomed to spontaneous rides on dad's hip.

Team executive Brian Moffitt met with Almirola, owner Richard Petty and crew chief Drew Blickensderfer to produce a list of potential fill-in candidates.

"We're working with our partners". We have a protocol that we go by and having Aric and Janice and all of our thoughts and prayers were first and foremost. Regan Smith will drive the #43 Ford this weekend in the Monster Energy Open.

Smith has numerous experiences as a replacement driver. Smith had spelled Dale Earnhardt Jr. for one race in 2012 when the Hendrick Motorsports driver was diagnosed with a concussion and missed two events. He's now campaigning for Ricky Benton in the No. 92 Ford in the Camping World Truck Series.

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